LIVE: Morel's second homer puts Sox ahead

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LIVE: Morel's second homer puts Sox ahead

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011
Posted: 8:55 a.m.
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(AP) -- When Chicago and Cleveland last met three weeks ago, the teams were battling for second place and just back of AL Central-leading Detroit.

The White Sox have since overtaken the Indians for second, but that doesn't seem to matter much now.

Having fallen significantly off the pace in the division, Chicago and Cleveland open a four-game series Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field looking like they'll simply be playing for pride down the stretch.

The White Sox (71-70) were 3 12 games back of the Tigers, while the Indians were two games out when they opened a three-game series in Chicago on Aug. 16. Cleveland (70-70) took two of three in that series between teams with legitimate playoff hopes.

That isn't the case anymore, however.

The White Sox have dropped five of eight to fall nine games back of Detroit, while the Indians have lost five of seven and are 9 12 back.

Cleveland's playoff aspirations effectively came to an end when it was swept in a three-game home series by the Tigers, capped with an 8-6 loss Wednesday.

"We just got swept," said first baseman Shelley Duncan, who hit a pair of two-run homers off Justin Verlander. "We're a little down right now."

Although his club's postseason chances are dim, manager Manny Acta is trying to stay positive.

"If we don't win (Thursday), it's not because this series is lingering," he said. "They've gone through worse and they have bounced back."

The White Sox, who lost to Minnesota 5-4 on Wednesday, experienced their own sweep to the Tigers over the weekend. Possibly the biggest blow to Chicago's playoff hopes came in scheduled starter Gavin Floyd's last outing.

In Detroit on Saturday, Floyd (12-10, 4.45 ERA) gave up four runs and eight hits and departed after five innings with the White Sox leading 8-4. But closer Sergio Santos gave up two homers in the ninth and the Tigers won 9-8 to drop Chicago 7 12 games off the pace.

Floyd has been hit-or-miss against the Indians lately. Since 2009, the right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA in five starts in the series, but 0-2 with a 15.43 ERA in the other three.

It has been a similar story since the All-Star break for Floyd, who has posted a 1.45 ERA in winning six of his starts as opposed to 0-1 with a 13.15 ERA in the other three. He has made two starts against the Indians in this stretch with two differing results.

In Cleveland on July 22, Floyd allowed four hits in 7 2-3 innings of a 3-0 win, but at U.S. Cellular on Aug. 16, he gave up five runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-7, 14-inning win.

The Indians counter with David Huff (2-3, 2.81), who gave up five runs and six hits in six innings of Saturday's 5-1 loss to Kansas City. It was the second time in three starts the left-hander permitted five runs after posting a 0.51 ERA in his first three starts.

Huff made a relief appearance against Chicago on Aug. 16, entering in the 14th inning to face Juan Pierre, who singled home the winning run.

He made all of his three career starts against the White Sox in 2009, going 2-0 despite an 8.04 ERA.

Chicago's Alexei Ramirez, batting .333 with six doubles in his last 11 games, is 5 for 9 with two homers lifetime against Huff.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

Road Ahead: How many wins will Jose Quintana end up with this season?

CSN's Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton break down the upcoming schedule in this week's Honda Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland & NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

After a 6-2 homestand, the White Sox got swept by the Detroit Tigers.

The White Sox will head to Minnesota for a four-game series and then head back to Chicago for another three-game series against the Tigers.

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Jose Quintana — who's searching for win No. 12 — and Carlos Rodon — who's 3-0 in his last five outings with a 1.47 ERA — are scheduled to get the first two games of the series.

With 30 games left, how many wins will Quintana finish the season with?

Chuck Garfien and Bill Melton share their thoughts.

See what they had to say in the video above.

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

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USA Today Sports Images

Chris Sale pitches well but Tigers top White Sox late again

DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers did it to the White Sox yet again.

For a third straight day, the White Sox grabbed an early lead. For a third straight day, the Tigers rallied back to win.

Tyler Collins’ pinch-hit sac fly in the bottom of the ninth inning off David Robertson sent the White Sox to a 3-2 defeat in front of 32,465 at Comerica Park. The victory completed a series sweep for the Tigers, who won eight of the teams’ nine meetings in Detroit this season. Chris Sale earned a no decision despite limiting the Tigers to two runs in eight innings.

“I don’t come here for the experience, I come here to win games and it didn’t happen,” Sale said. “It’s tough. It’s unfortunate. Ran into a little bit of bad luck there. That’s a good team. That’s what good teams do, they find ways to win. Certainly did that.”

Even in their two previous losses, the White Sox looked similar to the team that on Sunday completed a 6-3 homestand by taking three of four from the Seattle Mariners.

Sale had the White Sox in the thick of things again on Wednesday as he outdueled Justin Verlander for seven innings. But shortly after Sale struck out Victor Martinez for a second straight time, J.D. Martinez managed to get enough of a 1-1 changeup to dump it into left field for a two-out, game-tying single in the bottom of the eighth.

Rookie JaCoby Jones led off the ninth inning with a double off Robertson and advanced to third on a fly out to the wall by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Collins’ fly ball to left was deep enough for Jones easily to score the winning run when Avisail Garcia bounced his throw home.

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“It’s tough,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “We were playing pretty good baseball, but these guys have been sniffing us (out) at the end. We played fairly well early on, but with the lineup they have, it’s a pretty deep lineup that’s hard to contain.”

Sale used the double play as an effective tool early to get out of some potential trouble spots. One in the first inning erased a leadoff single by Ian Kinsler and Sale ended the second inning with a 6-4-3 off Saltalamacchia’s bat with two aboard. Sale also induced a double play to end the fourth inning after he walked Justin Upton.

Later in the game, Sale turned to his slider with great impact. After he didn’t strike out any of the first 20 hitters he faced, Sale struck out five of the next seven, including Victor Martinez to end the fifth inning with two on.

With the White Sox up 2-1, Sale nearly got out of a difficult eighth-inning jam.

Kinsler led off with a double to center and moved to third on a sac bunt. Sale struck out Victor Martinez but J.D. Martinez came through.

“With two outs already, you’re trying to make him hit your pitch and (Sale) did that,” catcher Alex Avila said. “He threw a really nice changeup off the plate away. Eighth of an inch and it’s a weak ground ball to short. Got to give them credit, he hit a good pitch as well. That was definitely tough. We’ve had two tough losses.”

Verlander was equally tough aside from a pair of fourth-inning mistakes.

Verlander continued a strong season with seven sharp innings as he limited the White Sox to three hits, walked none and struck out nine.

The White Sox jumped ahead of Verlander in the fourth inning when Jose Abreu and Avila belted back-to-back solo homers. But Verlander retired the last 10 hitters he faced and the White Sox were on their way to a third straight difficult defeat.

“I love winning, but it’s hard to hang your head when you play your ass off and so did they,” Avila said. “They happened to come out on top. We’ve had a few tough losses this year, but guys are playing hard. Just unfortunate they were able to get one extra one across.”

As he nears White Sox record, Todd Frazier is focused on improvement

As he nears White Sox record, Todd Frazier is focused on improvement

DETROIT -- Todd Frazier is close to a franchise record for home runs hit by a third baseman and he’s pleased with that aspect of his game. But the White Sox third baseman said Wednesday morning that his focus over the final month of the season is on ways he can improve for next season.

Frazier temporarily gave the White Sox the lead on Tuesday when he homered for the 33rd time, 32 of which have come with him at the hot corner (he also hit one as a first baseman).

With 31 games to go, Frazier is sure to pass both Robin Ventura, who hit 32 of 34 homers in 1996 while playing third base, and Bill Melton, who belted 33 at the hot corner in 1971.

But Frazier’s attention will mostly be tuned to adapting to the American League, which he has found trying at times.

“It has been different,” Frazier said. “I think (Justin) Morneau said it best the other day — National League there’s a lot more hitters, so they’re going to try and tinker a lot more with spots. For me I guess it was a little tough to adjust to that and finally figure out that they’re not always going to throw me strikes with a count that’s in my favor. Bottom line is you’ve got to look for your pitch and stay with it the whole time and eventually, once it comes, you can’t miss it.”

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There was an expectation the batting average of Frazier — a career .257 hitter before 2016 — would suffer some as he transitioned to the AL.

ZIPS projected Frazier’s average would drop to .239 this season.

Through 536 plate appearances, Frazier is hitting .214/.295/.452 this season with 33 homers and 83 RBIs. But he has struggled even more within the AL Central. Frazier entered Wednesday hitting .158/.229/.372 with 11 homers and 92 strikeouts in 201 plate appearances against AL Central foes.

“He’s seen a lot of these guys in our division,” Ventura said. “But there is a lot of good pitching in the American League, especially in the Central that you have to figure out.”

Frazier intends to do that and he’d like to find some success over the last month of games off which to build. Acquired in a three-team trade from Cincinnati last December, Frazier is under team control through 2017. Even though he has been strong with his glove and his home run production is on par with what the White Sox hoped for, Frazier knows there’s work to be done.

“A lot of times this year I did miss a lot of those pitches, but it’s something to learn from and something, look at some video and figure out some things I need to work on for next year,” Frazier said. “There’s always room for change.”